The Paper Trail

What you won't read in the morning paper about how the news gets delivered

"Why do people work off the books?" Macalester's Professor Rachleff asks. Answer: "It's a strategy of survival. The poor are very creative and very hard-working in figuring out how to survive. But I believe there will be an explosion of working-class anger and organization. That's a lesson of history. It's happened in periods of the past where employers have used their leverage to push workers down even further than society thought was reasonable."

Until that occurs, though, Owen Fitzmaurice knows it's hard for anyone without a morning route to understand why carriers keep on carrying. "People ask me all the time, 'Why in God's name do you do this?' But look, a lot of people don't have any choice. That's what no one seems to understand these days. There are a lot of people not making enough money during the day, and this is one of the few jobs you can do early in the morning."

Eldridge figures he'll quit one day, one day soon. He's been repeating the vow since the 1980s, and his habits have always been hard to break. Chris Taylor says he likes the hours, relishes the privacy, could never stand the normal workday rat race. ("You ever drive in rush-hour traffic? Man, I look at all those idiots and just think, 'We're doomed.'") Jan Olson puts it most simply: "Honey, if it's legal and helps us pay the bills, we'll do it."

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